The Hangover Part 3

By Jared Young

Mailed on May 24, 2013

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Dear Bryant Powell
Stand-in for Zach Galifianakis

Dear Bryant,

Tell me the truth, Bryant. It's all a joke, isn't it? An expensive, elaborate inside joke. A hilarious showbiz prank. A 60-million dollar episode of Between Two Ferns.

You must know. You were on set with Zach with all the time. I mean, not right beside him or anything--but even in those brief moments while you were swapping places, after the marks were set and the lights were ready, something of his motivations must have been revealed. A knowing wink? A clandestine nod? Some sort of dismissive wanking motion?

That's the magic of Galifianakis' act: one never quite knows whether the joke is for you or if it's on you.

And that's a problem, Bryant, because The Hangover Part 3 belongs entirely to Galifiankis and Ken Jeong. The rest of the cast seems to be fulfilling their contractual obligations--and who can blame them? Bradley Cooper has shrugged off the endearing douchebaggery that launched his career (in Wedding Crashers and the original Hangover) in favor of embracing his new status as doe-eyed, Oscar-nominated leading man. Ed Helms seems content to explore more complex versions of his nebbish dentist character in flicks like Cedar Rapids and Jeff Who Lives At Home.

While the first two _Hangover _films relied heavily on a somewhat unique dramatic structure (we never saw the balls-tripping bender that incited the action, only the aftermath), this last chapter, to its detriment, breaks from the formula. Instead we get John Goodman as a Vegas crime boss who kidnaps unlucky Doug (Justin Bartha's absence is at least consistent) to compel the rest of the Wolf Pack to find and capture master criminal Chow (Jeong). Which they do, eventually, in a series of complicated set-pieces that never really seem to go anywhere.

The first Hangover suffered a bit from the same kind of scene-to-scene lack of payoff, but it nonetheless felt a bit special, a bit distinct; Galifiankis, in particular, who brought such an unsettling, endearing weirdness to his character, like he had something to prove to mainstream audiences about what to expect from the funny man in a comedy ensemble.

But the third time around it all feels a bit tired. And I get the impression that Galifianakis knows it. Which is why you have to tell me, Bryant: is that palpable sense of lethargy and laziness, of going through the motions--is it some sort of clever meta-commentary on the Hollywood recycling system?

Does Zach Galifianakis know how lame The Hangover Part 3 is? And is he making it lame on purpose?



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